Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Recent Books, Beethoven Scores, and Manuscript Facsimiles (2017-2018)

Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Recent Books, Beethoven Scores, and Manuscript Facsimiles (2017-2018)

Article excerpt

This summary or scores and books recently acquired by the Beethoven Center is intended to aid readers in selecting new publications that appeal to their individual interests. Part I, "Books," includes books that focus on Beethoven, studies that place him in historical context, biographies of important critics, fiction and childrens books, and other monographs on Beethoven or with significant Beethoven content. All books are in English unless otherwise indicated. Part II, "Music," includes manuscript facsimiles, critical editions, and other recent scores.

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Cover of Beethoven's Conversation Books, Volume 1, edited and translated by Theodore Albrecht.

Part I. Books

A. For General Readers and Specialists: Focus on Beethoven

Beethoven's Conversation Books. Volume I: Nos. 1 to 8 (February 1818 to March 1820). Edited and translated by Theodore Albrecht. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2018. xxxvii, 384 pp. ISBN 9781783271504 (hardback): $80; ISBN 9781787442412 (ebook): $80.

Beethoven first noticed his hearing loss around 1798. As the affliction worsened-unaided by medical treatments or mostly useless ear trumpets-he was forced to ask friends and associates to communicate with him in writing. By 1818, he began using blank notebooks for this purpose, henceforth known as his Conversation Books. These remarkable documents provide a fascinating glimpse into Beethovens daily life, activities, interests, concerns, and opinions during his last decade. Unfortunately, this archival record is not complete; during one of Beethoven's many moves, a box containing some of his papers was lost, including the conversation books covering much of 1819-22. However, Beethoven continued to use the notebooks until the last three weeks of his life. After his death, Anton Schindler took possession of the books to use as material for his biography of Beethoven and eventually sold them to the Berlin Library. (Albrecht believes that some ofSchindler's "falsified" entries were simply attempts to decipher the books and dismisses the theory that Schindler destroyed many of them as a simple misunderstanding between Schindler and Thayer about the total number of books in existence.) Between 1968-2001, most of the conversation books were transcribed and published in eleven volumes (Karl-Heinz Köhler, Grita Herre, and Dagmar Beck, eds., Ludwig van Beethovens Konversationshefte [Leipzig: VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik]; vol. 12 to include individual conversation leaves is forthcoming), but only a few excerpts have been available in English translation. Theodore Albrecht undertook the formidable task of not only translating all 139 books (Hefte) and presenting them in "modern conversational American English" but also of providing copious footnotes that clarify identities of writers and details of chronology and context. Because of Beethoven s adherence to a daily routine, Albrecht also indicates, when possible, the place, day of the week, date, and time of the conversations. He also formats the entries to mark the beginning and end of long conversations and the departures and arrivals of visitors. This first volume contains books 1-8, spanning February 1818 to March 1820, when Beethoven's nephew Karl began to live with him and Beethoven became embroiled in disputes over the boy's guardianship and education. …

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